This has led some home improvement shops to see massive upticks in their spring sales. But others haven’t. This discrepancy has had little to do with demand and everything to do with foresight.
Maybe a shop didn’t have the processes or workers in place to enable curbside services. Or maybe they hadn’t focused on optimising their ecommerce channels in case of a surge in traffic.
And as such, they, like so many other businesses right now, are struggling.
These are unprecedented times, no doubt about it. But in a lot of cases, it’s not a lack of demand that is taking down businesses, but too much of it.
High traffic, whether due to a bank holiday weekend or a global pandemic, can pose a challenge for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). And prioritising the right things can determine the success – or survival – of your enterprise.
So in this blog post, I’m going to delve into why these priorities matter and offer some guidance to small businesses struggling to adapt to this new normal.
The power of proactivity
Right now, as this crisis transforms our society, ecommerce has become the primary mode of shopping for so many of us.
And while no one can hold it against any individual company for not having a specific pandemic-induced lockdown plan, we have been living through a period of intense disruption for some time now.
This is why small businesses that had already started on their digital transformation journey are the ones most likely to be thriving.
Because, while they may not have been preparing for a pandemic, they’ve been working on ways to make themselves more agile and creating better customer and employee experiences.
So they’ve been looking into ways to increase their remote worker capacity, or to improve their online user interface, long before this pandemic begun.
However, businesses that hadn’t started transforming, whether because they felt they didn’t have the capital or knowledge to invest in the right assets, or just because they took the economic climate for granted, are also the ones struggling to adapt.
Because now there’re only hard questions left. Do owners focus on hiring, keeping the business afloat or investing in new technology now to make the business more resilient?
These are hard decisions to make at the best of times.
But today, the repercussions of those choices may determine the business’ very existence.
We need to talk about networks
The reality is, there simply are aspects of ecommerce that not every business leader is positioned to fully grasp.
A big example of this is networking demands.
Networks are the part of the equation no one really thinks about. But they’re a crucial element to ensuring you both have the capacity and security to evolve your online services.
For instance, your employees’ online habits may change when they’re all working from home. Sure, they’ll do their job, but they’re also more likely to browse and shop. Their kids or partners may even use their work devices.
This can compromise your network security in unexpected ways, and tools such as the right VPN become essential to ensuring airtight security.
But this is just one of the many complications remote working can add to cyber security. And it’s understandable that many business owners wouldn’t factor that in.
However, not understanding the importance of these elements is what makes investments into new technology and services feel like an unnecessary expense.
So, when traffic picks up over a holiday weekend (or global pandemic), and they find they haven’t optimised or segmented their websites properly, they may find they buckle under the pressure of demand.
And that’s just what can happen when things are going well. When things go wrong, like if there’s a security breach, it can be devastating. In today’s new normal, there are thousands of new websites focused on coronavirus that are spreading malware and phishing campaigns using COVID-themed lures. Remember, 60% of small businesses go out of business within six months of a data breach or cyber-attack. So, is it really worth scrimping on these investments?
Instead of looking at that large front-end expense, ask yourself what will happen if you’re compromised. What will it cost you personally? What will it cost your customers? What will it cost your employees? What’s the danger of your data being stolen?
Because only then are you making a truly informed decision.
Stick to your strengths
It’s a time with opportunities but also scary to be a small business owner right now.
But you can take solace in the fact that you’re not alone – it’s a scary time for everyone!
And in times like these, it inspires people to reach out and help each other.
There’re so many tech companies, large and small, looking to help small business owners right now. As one such company, we know it’s very much in our interest to help get the economy back on track.
For example, we have a cloud-based, do it-yourself solution product called Meraki Go which we created to help take a lot of the technical burden off small businesses. So, whether it’s their security, switching or figuring out how to handle increase website traffic, it provides them with a dashboard that acts as a single point of management.
So small businesses have the same level of functional visibility that a much larger, more technical proficient company would have.
But we’re just one company, the key is to be flexible. With that in mind, our small business solution options are well worth exploring.
Take advantage of discounts, offers and deals from companies that want to work with small businesses right now. Most will send out a consultant or sit down on the phone with you and help you strategise, free of charge.
What’s important is that you start digitally transforming your organisation. Inaction is no longer an acceptable strategy. Any owner or leader worth their salt needs to be constantly questioning whether their organisation is ready for any eventuality. This is crucial to the future success of your business.
You don’t need to be able to do it all yourself – you just need to be aware that it has to be done.